Monday, November 4, 2013

Thirty Days of CCS #4: Laurel Lynn Leake

Laurel Lynn Leake is another standout from the impressive CCS class of 2013. She initially impressed me with her over the top, polymorphously perverse comic All Rumors Are True.This comic was just re-published and given a facelift by Good Pals Comics, a small publishing concern founded by CCS grad Sean Knickerbocker. The cover and title pages are all given a nice multicolor silkscreening, and the comic in general pops nicely.

Deep Forest #1 and #2, along with Wolf Girl, are all disparate stories told in the same world. It's a post-apocalyptic world in which hope has endured and civilization, after a sort, has been rebuilt. There are, however, plenty of rough edges remaining. The first issue has a foam green wash that reflects the nature of the deep forest and twilight, and it concerns a teenage scientist and her lycanthropic friend. The scientist is pushy yet empathetic, and she expresses a deep sense of longing for her dead parents by attempting to slough off her feelings. Leake, in just a few pages, creates a vivid fantasy picture of how these girls live their lives out in the wild, barely surviving on a day-by-day basis. Her rough brushwork is lovely as she creates simple but distinctive characters and environments. Issue #2 follows a different girl and a different life in Danna, an ace student in a school and a world where science and magic intertwine in unstated ways. She's part of an affluent family but missing a mother, giving her something in common with Regina, the girl from the first story. She lives in a comfortable house but loves walking into the warned-against Deep Woods, wherein she meets the Wolf Girl from the first story in friendly wolf form. Like the first issue, this isn't so much a story with a highly developed plot as it is a character study with hints of world-building. Each issue focuses on feelings like longing and a sense of joy in the moment despite the uncertainty of the future. Wolf Girl details the first meeting between the wolf and Danna, told in black & white and lettered in a sort of first-person scrawl. As one might expect in a story featuring a single-minded wolf girl, her feelings and desires are simple and easy for her to understand: friendship, food, entertainment. These are wonderfully subtle and restrained fantasy comics, and I only hope that she continues to do more without worrying about too much of an overarching plot or conflict.

L3 #2 is Leake's one-woman anthology.This issue is a loosely connected series of images, concrete and abstract, dealing with mental illness. I loved the way Leake used slashes and splotches of color to get at mood as well as wavy lines to think about anxiety. This is a powerful example of comics-as-poetry that switches between nearly-blank sketchbook pages with stream-of-consciousness text flowing around the idea of what's inside our minds and what's inside our skin. This comic is all about feeling waves of pressure, manifesting as bouts of anxiety and open worry about the ways in which the actions of others affect us. Leake's lettering is her secret weapon, as it modulates emotion and tone in all of her comics but is especially crucial here. Some letters are scrawled and desperate, while others are written in a neat script that's precisely integrated into the actual images. Like many of her classmates, Leake seems to be tremendously ambitious and is just starting to get warmed up.

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